Do aesthetic appeals to senses and emotions in political debate necessarily marginalise political reason and reduce citizens to consumers – thus dangerously undermining democracy? Or is sensuous-emotional engagement, on the contrary, a basic fact of the political process and a crucial precondition for revitalising democracy?
Aesthetics and Political Culture in Modern Society investigates the current interrelationship between aesthetic practice and political practice in Western democracies, focusing on its impact on democratic political culture. Henrik Kaare Nielsen argues that aesthetic interventions in the political process do not by definition undermine politics’ content of reason. Instead, a differentiation must be made between a multiplicity of aesthetic forms of intervention – some of which tend to weaken the political judgement of citizens while other forms tend to stimulate competent judgement.
This book will be of interest to scholars in the fields of political science, sociology, media studies, and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. Politics and democracy 3. Public space and late modern forms of public practice 4. Political and aesthetic discursive practice 5. Power-oriented aesthetic interventions in politics 6. Artistic interventions in the field of political practice 7. Current developmental perspectives of public discourse
Henrik Kaare Nielsen is Professor of Aesthetics and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark. He is an interdisciplinary researcher working in the field between the humanities and the social sciences. Author of 11 research monographs in Danish and numerous articles and chapters in academic journals and edited volumes, he is the editor of a number of academic books, including The Democratic Public Sphere: Challenges and Prospects (Aarhus University Press, 2016).
'A great deal of writing on art and politics these days is interested in arts only as a form of political resistance. Alternately, there is a strain of study which circumvents big P politics, concentrating on "community" and "conversation" and "process" as ends in themselves. In Aesthetics and Political Culture in Modern Society, Nielsen does something different. He reaches back to classical democratic and aesthetic theory to argue that art can facilitate the necessary conditions for democratic politics on a macro scale. For anyone interested in moving past resistance, or creating change that goes beyond micro-communities, this approach is essential.' - Stephen Duncombe, Co-Director of the Center for Artistic Activism and Professor of Media and Culture, New York University
'Criticizing neoliberal technocratisation and the overall process of aestheticisation while at the same time showing the potentials of aesthetic practice in generating genuine political judgement, this book is an eye-opening analysis of different kinds of current aesthetic intervention within public space. Theoretically brilliant and powerful.' - Birger Steen Nielsen, Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark